RPW Column: LJ Lombardo Bookends The DIRTcar 358-Modified Season At Lebanon Valley With Wins
Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – WEST LEBANON, NY – Ryan Charland has been a bridesmaid in 358-Modified feature competition at Lebanon Valley Speedway more times than he can count.
With five laps remaining in the division’s season finale Saturday night, Charland looked like he was poised to finally break that streak.
Unfortunately, LJ Lombardo had designs on victory lane as well.
As the laps wound down, Ray Hall Jr. and Lombardo were bearing down on the back bumper of Charland’s #10C machine, and unfortunately, Lombardo would get by with two laps to go.
However, a reprieve for the Stafford, CT racer as the yellow flag flew for Brady Cordova who spun in turn three before the lap was complete. Officials put Charland back in front.
Could this be his night?
That answer was no as Lombardo made a power move on the inside lane on the restart, getting by Charland to grab the top spot for good. The driver from Danbury, CT led the rest of the way to grab his second win of the season and gave Charland yet another runner-up finish.
“Jason (Herrington) gave me a good push on that final restart,” Lombardo said. “Honestly, I have to apologize to Ryan (Charland). I was told afterwards that I cleared him but I got tight in the center of the corner and it’s either shove up the race track or try to slide up. I thought he was going to go back underneath me.”
Following the top two on the night was Herrington who has had a stranglehold of victory lane on the final night of 358-Modified points for the last handful of seasons. On this night, however, Lombardo was the man holding the checkered flag.
“It’s always fun running with my boy Jason,” he said. “They gave me a spot there early on when I wasn’t sure if I passed him. That spot won us this race because myself, Jason and Andy (Bachetti) are just hammer down the whole time.”
Lombardo even poked fun at a message from Herrington he received on Friday.
“Jason texted me last night,” he said. “He told me he’s won the last three years in a row on Champion’s night. I had to spoil his fun.”
Charland had to settle for a hard-fought second place finish with Herrington in third. Champion for 2022, Andy Bachetti, came home in fourth with Hall completing the top five.
In the Sportsman division finale, as the race neared the halfway point, it looked as if Kevin Ward had the car that was going to victory lane. The 98 had worked his way up from eighth and was challenging leader Bob Fachini for the top spot.
Ward worked to the inside of Fachini off turn two on lap seven and very nearly had the leader cleared. However, the two made contact which sent the Ward machine backwards and into the outside wall.
He then got the car upside down before landing on all four tires (minus the right front which was ripped off the car).
Ward was uninjured in the accident but was visibly upset with Fachini who was sent to the rear for his involvement.
This gave the lead to Pete Lorenzo the lead, a spot he would not relinquish the rest of the way. Lorenzo held off a ferocious charge from 2022 Sportsman track champion Tim Hartman Jr. over the final 13 laps to record his first career win at the Valley.
“I knew Tim was there,” Lorenzo said. “You always know he’s there.”
On the final restart with six laps remaining, Hartman pulled up right alongside Lorenzo. That’s when the driver of the 3G understood exactly what he had to do if he wanted to get the win.
“When you know Tim’s right there, it’s all or nothing at that point,” he said. “You go into the first corner as fast as you can and try to hit your marks.”
In a short amount of time, Lorenzo has become a contender on the Valley high banks and he was quick to give credit to everyone that’s helped him along the way.
“I have to thank my family, all of my friends and the racing community here’s been great,” he said. “I remember just two or three years ago, I came here and there were a lot of people willing to help me out. I had never been in a racecar before and this was just something I always wanted to do.”
Lorenzo has had a career year in 2022, with numerous top five finishes and a third place position in the season-long point standings. The victory on Saturday was the icing on the cake.
“This is a great way to end the season here at Lebanon Valley,” he said. “I really needed this to have some confidence for next year.”
Hartman capped off his title run in 2022 with a charge from the rear of the field to come home in second. The second-generation driver had to go pitside for repairs on a lap six caution but charged through the field to come home in the runner-up spot.
Nick Giardini was third with Brady Cordova fourth and Shane Powell in fifth.
Dave Striebel Jr. held off 2022 Street Stock Champion Chris Stalker and Rob Partridge in a one-lap shootout to capture the Fosby’s Go-Fast Graphics “Go Big Or Go Home” 20-lap Street Stock feature event.
Striebel took the lead from Lou Gancarz on lap six and held off every challenge the rest of the way to take home the big victory.
“It’s definitely really special when you’re able to beat the best guy in the class,” Striebel said. “Chris’ the champion this year and it’s pretty cool to beat him in a race like this so I’m very happy.”
Streibel was able to defend his title in the race from 2021 ahead of the champ, Chris Stalker, who came home in second. Partridge, Jeff Meltz Sr. and Gary O’Brien completed the top five.
Anthony Maxon captured his first Limited Sportsman feature event win at the Valley in just his second race on the high banks. Karl Barnes came home second with Cody Cordova, Kevin Ames and Justin Lily completing the top five.
With his fourth place finish, Ames is your 2022 Limited Sportsman track champion.
Gary Malloy (Dual Cam) and Bradley Batho (Single Cam) were victorious in the Four-Cylinder division on Saturday night. In doing so, both drivers also captured the track championships in their respective classes.
358 MODIFIED FEATURE RESULTS (24 LAPS) 1) L.J Lombardo** 35 2) Ryan Charland 10C 3) Jason Herrington* 1 4) Andy Bachetti***** 4 5) Ray Hall JR. 72 6) Peter Carlotto 12C 7) Jeff Watson 22W 8) Lorne Browe 14B 9) Brian Petrerson 82 10) Kim Lavoy* 3 11) Montgomery Tremont 115 12) Frank Harper 25 13) Kevin Petrucci* 24 14) Jeff Gallup 4MA 15) Brian Sandstedt* 12S 16) Ryan Larkin 39 17) Brady Cordoba 7 18) Mark Pullen 30 19) Alan Houghtaling* 250 20) Joey Coppola 94
SPORTSMAN FEATURE RESULTS (20 LAPS) 1) Pete Lorenzo* 3G 2) Tim Hartman***** 22H 3) Nick Giardnni 85 4) Brady Cordova*** 4C 5) Shane Powell 33S 6) Rick Wegner 22 7) Karl Barnes** 307 8) John Miller 88 9) Angelo DiCarlo 81D 10) Chris Lynch 74 11) Colin Clow 25 12) Ryan Heath 6R 13) Rob Maxon 96 14) Kevin Ward* 98 15) Bob Fachini 728 16) Anthony Maxon 96M 17) Cody Cordova* 11 18) Kevin Ames** 43 19) Justin Lily 44L 20) Frank Twing JR.* 1T 21) Matt Jordan 5MJ
STREET STOCK FEATURE RESULTS (20 LAPS) 1) Dave Striebel JR.***** 73 2) Chris Stalker****** 177 3) Rob Partridge 22 4) Jeff Meltz SR.* 5X 5) Gary O’ Brien* 57 6) Brian Walsh* 43 7) Katarina Foster 10 8) Scott Morris 84 9) Ryan Brown O10 10) Franklin Smith 76 11) Daniel Coonradt 74 12) Lou Gancarz O8 13) Dylan Fachini 35 DQ) Dominic Hilt 17H 15) Mike Dianda 315 16) Kerri Vandenburg 89 17) Rocco Procopio 62 18) Clem Toffolo 09C
LIMITED SPORTSMAN FEATURE RESULTS 1) Anthony Maxon 96M 2) Karl Barnes** 307 3) Cody Cordova* 11 4) Kevin Ames** 43 5) Justin Lily 44L 6) Frank Twing JR.* 1T 7) Matt Jordan 5MJ
4 CYLINDER DUAL CAM FEATURE RESULTS 1) Gary Malloy*** 69D 2) Steve Burbank 22D 3) Mike Duncan 6D 4) Chris Danylieko 191D 5) Jon Shepard** 99D 6) Doug Howe 12D
4 CYLINDER SINGLE CAM FEATURE RESULTS 1) Bradley Batho** O7s 2) Joey Batho, 7S 3) Joe Wolfe 777S 4) Victor Duncan SR. 60S